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Modern Art

So the fash are on their “modern art is bad” spree again and I’m seeing a lot of comrades speaking out in defense of modern art and that’s great because I love modern art but two things:

First, the fascists started out rejecting but ended up coopting modern art (Hartwig comes to mind). Second, let’s be careful so we don’t make aesthetics education a shibboleth for gatekeeping. Uh, that came out a li’l bit jargony but what I mean is I don’t want “lol those grobians don’t get this stuff, we’re so clever” because then people who don’t get modern art will be like “oh ok I guess the left is not for me, bye”.

Instead, I want to share a taste of what cubism meant to us, for everyone who wants it. Modern art belongs to everyone.

Three Picasso paintings

Cubism preceded animation and video games. For example, Picasso’s 1907 painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. It was a way to see images from many angles, and moments, at once. It was a huge 🤯 when this first showed up.

If you get into it, cubism lets you smell and hear and be overwhelmed by these pictures that bypass traditional vision and get straight into sense memory, moment by moment, button by botton, screaming horse by screaming horse, fingertips through coarse hair.

Muybridge, Marey, Duchamp pictures

Eadweard Muybridge, Étienne Jules Marey and Marcel Duchamp also made mindblowing and images. People are like “Duchamp? Urinal guy?” Yeah, he was a sculptor and painter too. (And a total chess nerd.)

Like these days when we have Frozen and Doom and Jimi Hendrix and pop rocks and acid and Glass Teeth and Adventure Time and Tetris and the Monkees, now maybe cubism and modernism and neoplasticism don’t look so special but back in the day we were dropping our jaws down to the god damned basement seeing this stuff.

Haussmann’s boulevards had just obliterated Paris and subjected us to the modern city. It was an era of spirits and aliens and evolution and evil flowers and Little Nemo in Dreamland and our brains were on the god damned floor seeing this stuff.